Pedro Sánchez during the press conference./ Photo: Moncloa TV
The Diplomat. 13/07/2018
The president of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, concluded yesterday in Brussels his first participation in a NATO summit, a meeting that was uncharacteristically marked by the insistence of the US President, Donald Trump, on demanding the allies to increase their defense expenditure. Finally, Spain undertook the commitment of increasing by 2% the military expenditure by 2024.
“We understand the White House’s position, but we also ask for the understanding of the group of NATO allies”, Sánchez declared during the press conference after the summit. “The contribution of the States to NATO does not only consist of financial resources, it also includes the cession of capacities and the contribution to missions”, warned the president, who held two brief personal meetings in Brussels with Trump.
“In the financial contribution we are below”, Sánchez admitted, “but it must be taken into account that Spain has got out of a very important economic crisis”. “The NATO commitments are inexcusable and this Government has assumed the road map marked by the previous Government in previous NATO summits and is willing to reach 2% in its defense expenditure by 2024”, an objective already set by the Government of Mariano Rajoy in 2014.
Pedro Sánchez affirms in Brussels that Spain will increase by 2% its defense expenditure by 2024
Nevertheless, he insisted, the contribution, “as well as quantitative is qualitative”, and regarding capacities and contributions, “Spain is quite above the average” and it has proved to be “not only a reliable country, but also an active one”.
In relation to this, Sánchez announced that Spain has committed to take care of the Mission of Training and Qualification of military forces in Tunisia and, on the other hand “if it was necessary”, to lead the evacuation of the UN mission in Libya, as long as the UN makes the request and the Atlantic Alliance agrees with it, for which Spain would contribute the forces and amphibian capacitation of the High Availability Headquarters of Rota.
The leaders of the Alliance were forced to modify the summit’s agenda yesterday after Trump unexpectedly attacked a series of allies (expressly mentioning Germany, Belgium and Spain) due to their low defense expenditure. In the subsequent press conference, the North American President celebrated as a personal victory the decision of the members of NATO to increase their defense expenditure.